HC Deb 19 January 1967 vol 739 cc628-9
14. Mr. Marquand

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to ensure that Commonwealth immigrants admitted to this country on school-teacher vouchers receive suitable training to enable them to take up teaching posts in British schools.

Mr. Denis Howell

The Department has sponsored four full-time courses of 15 months' duration for such immigrant teachers, 65 teachers are at present attending these. We are reviewing the need for any further provision of this type in the light of the experience already gained.

Mr. Marquand

Would my hon. Friend agree that a large number of Commonwealth immigrants who came in on teaching vouchers are still doing unskilled jobs? Would he further agree that the ideal would be that one of the three following things should happen: first, immigrants who want to come here on teaching vouchers should be told that they probably will not be able to get jobs as teachers; secondly, only immigrant teachers with qualifications that are suitable for English schools should be allowed in; thirdly, as a matter of routine all immigrants who come here on teaching vouchers should receive suitable training? Can my hon. Friend say how this is likely to be achieved?

Mr. Howell

I cannot agree that there are many teachers coming in who cannot get employment. When I examined all the cases brought to our attention I found that, generally speaking, the great difficulty is language. It is essential for a teacher to be understood by the children he or she is trying to teach. However, if my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind I shall be most anxious to look at them individually.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the qualifications for teachers in some Commonwealth and foreign countries are quite different from the qualifications that we expect here, and that some well-informed people have expressed the view that many of the people coming in on these vouchers could not profit from our teacher-training courses?

Mr. Howell

I think that there may have been something in that a year or two ago, but since we made it well understood that we have to maintain professional standards in our own teaching profession and adjusted our own regulations accordingly, I think there is less cause for concern.